Modernization of Air Warfare

Thesis: Military aircraft has become more sophisticated in variety, effectiveness in war situations, and special
maneuvering techniques in recent years.


Military aircraft has become more sophisticated in
variety, effectiveness in war situations, and special
maneuvering techniques in recent years. With the advance of
stealth technology, many new and very effective aircraft
have been developed. The F-117A was used during Operation
Dessert Storm and every plane came back without a scratch.
The very expensive B-2 stealth bomber has never been used in
actual war, but during testing it was a success. The
Advanced Tactical Fighter program was started to make an
aircraft that could supercruise, the ability to cruise at
supersonic speeds, and didn't cost very much. The YF-22 and
YF-23 were the first planes to accomplish this. With all the
planes we know of, there are also top secret programs
probably going on right now. A new fighter that has never
been heard of before has been spotted. As John Welch, the
assistant secretary of Air Force said, "Stealth gives us
back that fundamental element of war called surprise"
(Goodall 9).

After it was found that aircraft could be very
useful in war, it was used for large scale reconnaissance.
Then people started to add bombs to aircraft and then
airplanes started to become an essence of war. After World
War 2, new bombers were developed with fast speed, and could
travel far distances. They could also carry nuclear bombs
and missiles. The use of the bomber aircraft then led to the
fighter, which was equipped with guns and missiles.
Helicopters were also found to be good strike aircraft. They
were armed with cannons, machine guns, rockets, torpedoes,
and a variety of missiles. Vertical takeoff made the
helicopter an advantage.

The first flight of the F-117A was in June of 1981
in Groom Lake test facility. The total cost for the
development of the F-117A was just under two billion
dollars, but it only cost $43 million to make each plane. It
became operational in October of 1983 and was the first
operational stealth aircraft ever built. The F-117A is a
night attack plane powered by two, nonafterburning General
Electric engines. F-117As were designed for first-strike
capabilities and to be able to fly into any countries
airspace undetected. The primary task of the F-117A is to
break through enemy airspace, destroy high value targets,
and return back unharmed. They were considered to first be
used in several different tasks, but weren't used until
Operation Dessert Storm where they did an excellent job. As
Donald Rice, Secretary of the Air Force, said, "Everyone now
agrees the F-117 was a real bargain" (9).

During Operation Dessert Storm the F-117As were
found out to be very successful. The war began on January
16, 1991 when the F-117A fighters entered the Iraqi airspace
on their way to downtown Baghdad. There were 43 of them over
the skies of Iraq and not one was lost even though they went
against one of the most modern air-defense systems in the
world. Operation Dessert Storm was the largest aerial
bombing attack in war history. It was also the first time a
stealth aircraft was used as a main weapon. On the first day
of Dessert Storm the Lockheed F-117As dropped sixty-two
2,000 pound bombs on Baghdad destroying the most critical
targets of the Iraqi military, including the headquarters of
the Iraqi air force. "We've seen that not only does stealth
work, but that it puts fewer assets at risk and saves lives"
(9), as Donald Rice said. The pilots of those F-117As flew
through the hardest anti-aircraft missiles any pilot has
ever flown through.

When you think of stealth, most people probably
think of B-2 stealth bomber, but most people don't realize
that it hasn't even been used in a real war situation yet.
In November of 1987 the Pentagon ordered the first four B-2s
to be built for $2 billion. Each B-2 cost $437.4 million to
build. After the military liked the bomber, they originally
ordered 133 of them, then they cut back to 75 because of the
deficit-reduction bill. Then, in 1992, the House of
Representatives voted to buy only twenty, and later only 15
saying that 10 would be enough. With four General Electric
engines with 19,000 pounds